Austin, Texas (September 24, 2013) – One look at the egg set in your local grocer will tell you all you need to know about how much customers are embracing the benefits - both personal and ethical - of pasture-raising. Where before you might have had to shop at specialty stores to find eggs of this kind, increasingly you'll find them right alongside regular eggs, and the chances are they'll be one of Vital Farms' delicious offerings. Consumers are quickly learning to appreciate the benefits of pasture-raising, a farming method that centers on the highest standard or animal welfare – fresh air, salad and plenty of exercise if you will – that produces healthier, tastier eggs. The farming of the future rooted firmly in the past. People get it, and people love it.
"The public misunderstanding of the term ‘Free-range’ is a misconception that the egg industry does nothing to dispel," says Matt O’Hayer, co-founder and CEO of Vital Farms, the nation’s leading producer of Certified Humane®, pasture-raised eggs for natural, organic and, more recently, conventional food markets.
"Whenever you have up to 20,000 chickens crammed into an industrial-size barn that has only a very few tiny doors, or “pop holes” as the egg industry calls them, most of the birds inside the building never see the open doors, let alone the light of day. Yet, the mere existence of an access point permits the industry to call eggs from this process “free range” or “cage free,” " he explains. “Granted, it is an improvement over the squalor of caged production, but a small one at best.”
In reality, each “free range” hen lives practically its entire life indoors on about 1 square foot of total space. By comparison, pasture-raised birds, like those on Vital Farms’ properties, bask in a positively luxurious minimum of 108 square feet of outdoor space each. With access to fresh pasture, native grasses and sunshine, this makes for premium quality pasture-raised eggs that are lower in cholesterol and saturated fat and higher in omega-3s, vitamins A, D and E, and other key nutrients compared to their conventional, cage-produced counterparts, according to a study conducted by Mother Earth News.
Sales of humane and specialty eggs are outpacing the category overall, reports Progressive Grocer, and, as the leading supplier of Certified Organic and pasture-raised eggs to Whole Foods Market and other retailers, Vital Farms’ continued growth reflects this trend.
New Pasture Raised Egg Brands Positioned to Serve a Growing Market
To serve the growing demand for humanely produced, pasture-raised eggs, Vital Farms has launched new brands to serve different markets and consumer segments throughout the country. In addition to its Vital Farms branded Certified Organic eggs, which are, by the very definition of organic standards, non-GMO, the company also recently introduced Backyard Eggs, the first line of specifically Non-GMO Project Verified, pasture-raised eggs, in the nation. Both brands are available exclusively at Whole Foods Market stores nationwide.
For independent natural and organic retailers and conventional grocers across the country, the company recently launched the Pasture Verde brand, which are the very same certified organic, pasture raised eggs sold as Vital Farms Egg in Whole Foods. All their pasture-raised eggs are produced by a network of more than 40 independent family farms in Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Georgia and California. These farmers are committed to humane, sustainable production, says Dan Brooks, Marketing and Communications Director for Vital Farms.
In addition to its Certified Organic and non-GMO Project Verified brands, Vital Farms also offers Alfresco Farms pasture-raised eggs, from chickens raised on conventional feed but with no added hormones or antibiotics, and no toxic, synthetic pesticides or herbicides used on their pastures. By mitigating the expense of the Organic or Non-GMO feeds, Alfresco Farms is able to offer customers an egg with all the benefits of pasture-raising at lower price point on the shelf, and sales of this category of product have contributed enormously to Vital Farms’ growing success. Shelved next to eggs that perpetuate the fallacies of industrial egg production, choosing affordable pasture-raised eggs is a no-brainer.
“Every time I have a chance to chat with customers at the egg shelves, and I explain pasture-raising to them, you can see the light bulb go off. It's basically the kind of egg that they think they've been buying all along, and the egg that they've wanted all along!” says O’Hayer. “The idea that the hens are happy clearly makes people feel good about what they are buying and eating.”
Vital Farms brands:
- Pasture Verde – Pasture raised; Certified Humane®; USDA certified organic (non-GMO) vegetarian feed; available at independent natural and organic products retailers nationwide.
- Vital Farms – Pasture raised; Certified Humane®; USDA certified organic (non-GMO) vegetarian feed; available at Whole Foods Market nationwide.
- Backyard Eggs – Pasture raised; Certified Humane®; Non-GMO Project Verified vegetarian feed; produced without antibiotics, or toxic, synthetic pesticides and herbicides; available at Whole Foods Market nationwide.
- Alfresco Farms – Pasture raised; Certified Humane®;
non-organic, vegetarian feed; produced without antibiotics, or toxic, synthetic pesticides and herbicides; available at independent natural and conventional grocery stores nationwide.
- Texas Chicken Ranch – Pasture raised, Certified Humane®; non-organic, vegetarian feed produced without antibiotics or toxic, synthetic pesticides and herbicides; available at H-E-B.
“Eggs classified as ‘pasture raised’ are laid by hens raised primarily outdoors,” says O’Hayer. “With lots of space and plenty of opportunity to perch, forage and behave just as they would in the wild, we believe that these happy hens lay the best eggs in the world. Frequently rotated onto fresh pastures, managed without the use of toxic, synthetic pesticides or fertilizers – and safely roosted at night in secure hen houses, pasture-raised hens naturally supplement their diet with fresh grasses, herbs and the sort of creep-crawly goodies that only a pecking hen could love! This combination of diet and healthy, outdoor living result in eggs that are unsurpassed in flavor, appearance, texture and nutritional content, loved by our customers and chefs alike.”
About Vital Farms
Matt O’Hayer and his wife Catherine Stewart started Vital Farms in 2007 with 20 Rhode Island Red hens on a 27-acre farm in southeast Austin, TX, in hopes of providing the best quality eggs while creating a place where the hens can “flap their wings, stretch their legs, move around, and act like chickens.” In 2009 they were joined by Jason Jones, who had recently tired of corporate life. “When Jason came along,” says O’Hayer, “we knew that we had a way to make this work on a much larger scale. The combination of experience, belief and passion has proven to be a powerful one!”
Currently, the company works with a network of more than 40 independent, family-owned farms to produce Certified Humane® pasture-raised eggs for the natural, organic and conventional food markets, and is the largest supplier of pasture-raised eggs in the nation. In August 2013, Vital Farms was awarded the #85 slot on the Inc. 500 list of fastest growing privately held companies in the U.S. The company strives to be environmentally sensitive in all aspects of its operation and uses 100% recycled pulp for its egg cartons. For more information, visit www.vitalfarms.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, tel 877.455.3063.
Communications by: Compass Natural Marketing
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